Faith, God & Family: Finding Love & Peace During COVID-19

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The pandemic won’t stop yourself and others from finding love anywhere that may be

By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Faith Columnist—

Glinda the Good Witch told the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz, “be gone.” If only chasing the wickedness of COVID-19 were that easy. Despite the challenges of the weeks and months to come, there are ways to manage feelings of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.

Many are staying home whether to work in a safer place or have no choice due to the extraordinarily stressful realities of unemployment. Fortunately, Congress agreed on a massive stimulus package. This should provide much needed financial relief for millions of people. Financial support does protect the body with food and shelter, but don’t forget the mind and spirit.

Although it is vital everyone is informed with credible information, it is also very important not to suffer self-inflicted information overload, which it’s easy to do, especially if you’re a news junkie. It can make stress and anxiety worse. I’m limiting my news consumption and highly recommend it. I’m also looking for articles that nurture the soul.

In March, Gwen Aviles reported for NBC News, three same-gender couples were married in New York City. The coronavirus pandemic upended carefully laid plans and provided a jarring reminder of what’s important. The couples decided to marry sooner than later.

In one case the couple had a “legal wedding” and used video technology to share the event live. They didn’t exchange vows preferring to wait for when friends and family are able to travel. Another couple was married in their apartment and though it wasn’t what they wanted, “it still felt special,” Aviles quoted one of the spouses saying.

The third couple wanted an October wedding, not one in wintry, sometimes gloomy March. But, what the pandemic did was to “make us stronger partners and reprioritize and remember how much we care about each other.”

In October 2019, I lost a dear friend of almost 25 years. It’s tough to imagine the world without her. I was supposed to have visited her earlier that spring in Maine. I postponed the trip. She ended up moving to Florida. I was supposed to visit again and foolishly put off the trip. Unexpectedly, she was called home to her God. Putting off till tomorrow what I should have done today was a very painful life-lesson.

All of us realize genuine friends and family (not the toxic kind) make life worth living. It’s important to let those we care about know they’re not taken for granted. Sometimes the words need to be spoken. Don’t assume someone knows how you feel.

Finding peace and managing anxiety may require a day-by-day strategy. Don’t expect more of today or yourself than is realistic. Keep to a routine as best as possible. Visualize something positive down the road when life gets back to normal. And yes, though it may not seem like it now, things will eventually get better.

Use Skype or WhatsApp or another preferred medium to see and talk with friends. Do not dwell on the negative and feed off one another’s anxiety. Be positive. Think long-term. In the short-term remember, babies will still be born, tulips and daffodils will be up, and despite hoarding there’s plenty of food in the stores. Be grateful for small gifts of joy. Buy yourself or your significant other some fresh cut flowers and put them where everyone can enjoy them. As I finalized this column, I saw my first cardinal of the season. It was very special. Remember acts of kindness. Thank the grocery clerk for coming in to do his or her job. He or she also has worries.

Life can still be celebrated and the goodness in each of us shared with others.

*Paul is a personal chaplain, seminary trained, and ordained priest, and lawyer in greater Albany, NY. He’s author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis.”

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